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Kasli Iron Casts
November 3, 2009 16:19


Kasli, one of the oldest towns of the South Ural, is famous world over thanks to its iron cast sculptures and works of applied art. Ural casting is the leader of artistic and architectural casting of iron and bronze of the 18-20th centuries, known among both art collectors and general public. The heritage of Ural casting art was greatly contributed by sculptors M.D. Kanayev, N.R. Bakh, P.K. Klodt, and E.A. Lanceray. The traditions of Kasli iron casting (graphic-like accuracy of the silhouette, combination of elaborate details and generalized planes with energetic play of highlights) took shape in the 19th century.

In 1747 merchant Yakov Korobkov from Tula founded the Kasli Iron-Smelting Plant in the South Ural. He had bought spacious plots from the Bashkirs for a song. The land proved to be extremely rich in pine woods, lakes, and iron ore, deposited almost on the surface.

In 1752 the Kasli Plant was purchased by Nikita Demidov, a famous owner of numerous plants in the Ural and Siberia. By that time the plant had been smelting cast iron, turned over into ploughshare, flat and bulk iron. Cannons and cannonballs were sent to the centre of Russia from the Ural. Demidov’s iron had its own trademark – two rampant sabers. It was of the highest quality in the world!

In the 18th century the plant was famed for its excellent iron, and later, in the 19th century, it became renowned for its artistic iron casting. It was favoured by the fact that Kasli harboured great reserves of quality mould sands, and timber to produce coal.

The first casts of Kasli iron appeared in the 1850s. Those were big articles, such as flagstones, railings, garden benches, and tombstone bas-reliefs. In the 1860-1890s the art and craft of iron casting reached its peak. In those years the Kasli Iron-Casting Plant took numerous prizes and medals at exhibitions in Petersburg, Vienne, Philadelphia, Stockholm, etc.

 


Sculpture “Russia”
from the iron cast pavilion
      The greatest glory and fame was gained at the Paris World Exhibition in 1900, where a unique work – a cast iron pavilion was displayed. Kasli masters had cast a huge iron Byzantine style palace, which amazed the foreign countries with its fantastic idea and daring implementation. N. Laveretsky’s sculpture “Russia” depicting a warrior-woman, with confidence and dignity defending the world, decorated the entrance to the pavilion and was its major element. The wonder-pavilion was recognized the masterpiece of casting art and took the Grand Prize of the exhibition. Nowadays the pavilion is permanently exhibited in the Yekaterinburg Picture Gallery, whereas an enlarged copy of the sculpture “Russia” is kept in the Moscow Kremlin.

Thus, the Kasli craftsmen glorified the art of Ural masters that had turned the unyielding grim cast iron into wonderful material for refined sculptures and other works of art.

 

Kasli artistic iron casting presents an entire realm of various themes and plots: from a peasant ploughman to the Venus of Milo, from massive solemn gravestones to a finest fob chain, from monumental sculpture figures to miniature statuettes of gentle ballerinas, from gratings for grand constructions to refined garden furniture, from plain household dishes to openwork plates, vases, caskets, candlesticks, and ashtrays. The Kasli plant also produced a wide range of architectural casting, including railings for parks and palaces of Saint Petersburg, and for bridges of Moscow.

The Kasli iron casts enjoy extraordinary popularity. They are so widely spread that have become innumerable, just like wild flowers in the spaciousness of Russian expanse.

Saturated with picturesque Russian nature and having insight into its beauties, the masters of Kasli managed to embody them in enlivened iron, otherwise quite a grim and hard material. The works of Kasli artistic iron casting amaze with the feeling of longevity, strength and solidity, not to say eternity, despite all the visual fragility and delicacy of some openwork casts.

Sources:
    russia.rin.ru
    antiqueshop.ru


Tags: Russian Arts and Crafts Russian Sculpture Iron Sculpture   

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